Posted in North America, Travels, United States

The Besties (kind of) Take Chicago, 2.5

Last half of my Bestie Chicago trip (and I promise no more distractions, for now). The evening’s activities took us to my first deep dish pizza, Willis Tower, and my first opera.

So I left off last week with a foot massage and pedicure in the middle of Chinatown after a very satisfying dim sum lunch. Afterwards, the Bestie and I wandered further down into Chinatown to hunt for souvenirs, but let me be the first to tell you that Chicago’s Chinatown is not the place to go souvenir hunting. It’s also not the place for much of anything except food. I think we only found a couple of places that actually sold Chicago-themed souvenirs, and most of them were just postcards and those weird spoons that are too small to hold anything. Look elsewhere for your souvenirs, tourists.

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Halfway-devoured pizza

Since Chinatown was a bust, and we had some time to kill before our evening plans, we decided to try out some of Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza. A quick Google search told us that Lou Malnati’s was a Chicago staple for pizza, so we headed there. If you’ve never had deep dish pizza, let me just share my experience so you can learn from my mistakes. First of all, it takes FOREVER to cook. Make sure you have plenty of time to spare when you decide to sit down and order one. And entertain yourself while you’re waiting. Have talking points prepared or something. Oh, and I thought Lou Malnati’s was really dark inside. I don’t know if that’s aesthetics, but they could use a few additional lights. I’m not a cat.

We eagerly dug into the pizza as soon as it hit the table. It was only divided into a few slices, but when they say deep dish, they mean DEEP DISH. Those slices are THICK. You could have one of those suckers as a whole meal. I was full after the first bite of my second slice. My favorite thing about this pizza — it’s super saucy. I love red sauce, and I love pizza even more when it’s drenched in it. You need something to soak the crust in. Warning to all of those dairy-conscious (or have dairy-wary GI tracts) — there is a crapload of cheese in this pizza. Not only is it delicious, but it creates this ooey-gooey-goodness when it’s hot (and this nasty rubber texture when it’s cold). But if your GI tract doesn’t particularly agree with dairy products, make sure you have a bed to yourself because you’ll be tooting all the way up to the moon.

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Potato-view from the Skydeck

After a quick trip to the hotel to make myself look halfway decent, we caught an Uber for a quick run up to the Willis Tower Skydeck. Basically, it’s a visitor’s center at the 103rd floor in Willis Tower with a view of the skyline of downtown Chicago. As with any city attraction, there’s a line to get in, and to entertain those waiting in line, there’s a video about the tower and what’s great about it, but we had plans later that night, so we bypassed all of it and I don’t know quite what it said. Take the elevator up to the 103rd floor and wait in line again for a picture at the Skydeck. The Skydeck is pretty much this glass box that sticks out over the side of the building (you can look down and see the street somewhere below you). While you’re waiting, the many windows along the walls give you beautiful views of the city. Someone recommended that we go to Skydeck at night, and I’m glad we did (my pictures don’t do it any kind of justice). I’ve been told that sunset is even better, but we missed it. The Skydeck website does offer assistance planning your visit, especially if you want to watch the sun set.

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Another view

In terms of pictures at Skydeck, they’ll help you take your own, but of course, theirs always look better (for some reason). You can buy their photos for a fee downstairs. Remember to turn off the flash if you take your own photos. And maybe figure out how to work your camera or phone beforehand so your night pictures don’t turn out like mine. The pictures themselves don’t take long, but the line was a bit of a wait because several people ahead of us couldn’t make up their minds as to if they wanted to step over the edge. I would say, don’t take someone here who’s afraid of heights (apparently that not a no-brainer to everyone). It holds up the line. SIDE NOTE: If you’re interested in city views, a friend of mine also recommended checking out the John Hancock Center.

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Opera program

Okay, so it’s obvious that my photography skills have quite a ways to go. I still need to master night shots, and those are my favorite ones to look at.

Walked out of the Willis Tower after perusing through their gift shop and walked down the street to the Lyric Opera of Chicago for my first opera show (how bougie, I know). Try everything once. Due to childhood cartoons, I always thought the opera was boring and for snooty people, but I thought actually going to a show would change my tune.

And change it did. We watched Cinderella, and even thought I didn’t understand a thing, it was great. I only know a couple of other languages besides English, and I believe this opera was in Italian, which is not one of those other couple of languages. There are, however, subtitles (or supertitles?) running high above the stage so you don’t feel lost. If you’ve seen any of the various children’s versions of this tale, it goes along the same lines for the most part. It was also kind of funny, which was unexpected for me.

And so ends my time in Chicago (for now). I am forever grateful that the Bestie took time out of her life to take me away for a couple of days, and I definitely am looking forward to my next trip there. She recently went back on her own and said that the Architecture Tour along the Chicago River is a must-see, so make sure to make time for it if you go.

In the process of planning the next adventure –check back soon!

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